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My Favorite Poem, Ever (Speaking of Spring)

comericacrociicloseupI am repeating a portion of a post I made back in December, 2005. That post celebrated a then-new book of poetry: “4 Against the Wall” by Zachary Chartkoff, Sam Mills, Robert Rentschler, and Ruelaine Stokes.

The season outside as I type this is “late winter/early spring” as John Denver once put it. I think we have no snow around at this point, and there are daffodils blooming en masse as of yesterday. It is gray and wet, and chilly. It has been a while since we saw frost, but we are not done with that possibility for another month.

The Gift of Words

My friend, Ruelaine, wrote a poem years back, which can move me to tears. It is about spring, both human/emotional spring as well as the physical, seasonal spring as we are experiencing it now in my city.

When Ruelaine reads a poem, she does not stand still and use merely her voice. Every cell of her body is poised and projecting the feelings inside the words. She sometimes gestures with her hands. Her voice changes pitch and speed.

Ruelaine knows when to stop, and wait, and let silence be part of the rhythm. She is not just a reader, she is an actor in all the good meanings of that word.

Try to imagine in your mind, the slow, expressive voice of my friend. You may not know her, but slow down your cadence, imagine a low and intent voice speaking at a pace which allows full understanding… as the words flow by your ears and your heart.

This is the last half of my 2005 post referenced above. Remember, “The trees will buy new dresses…” It is spring.

My favorite poetry performer of all time is Lynne Ruelaine Stokes. She can read her own poetry, or anyone else’s (I love it when she reads Rumi), and make it take on such life that it almost has a flavor.

Here is my very favorite poem. Ever. Of any time, any writer. I can not read the poem without choking up and/or shedding a tear. I have lived the spirit of this poem, though I did not write it.

I am not the only person who has been deeply moved by this poem. Several years ago, I purchased an artpiece from Freshteh Parvizi which includes fragments of text, excerpts from this very poem.

The poem is on page 75 of the, wonderful, fabulous, incredible gem of a book. (Included here with permission.) Written by none other than my friend Lynne Ruelaine Stokes… poet, photographer, artist.

from the “book” of common prayer
wash my heart & call me clean
a hard time is over

yesterday I listened to the grass grow wild
green under the snow

& now I see the water fall
from your eyes

let it rain
let it rain down on me

forgiveness is mine/listen to your lover

the trees will buy new dresses
the birds will flower

I called it a hard time, lord
but it’s over

tea is on the table, honey in the pot
bread and butter
even the radio wants
to be my friend

that hard time, lord
it’s over

2 Responses to “My Favorite Poem, Ever (Speaking of Spring)”

  1. Diana Troldahl Says:

    Wow.. what terrific shivers of joy you brought me.
    And your description of Ruelaine reading brought me right there with you. You too have a gift.

  2. LynnH Says:

    Thank you, Diana, for that input. I just read it again for the umpteen-zillionth time, and I still find my eyes welling up with feeling.

    My father, a communications professor, would sometimes speak of a “pregnant pause.” As a young girl, this made no sense but I pondered the odd combination of words.

    When Ruelaine reads, the meaning of my father becomes clear. She ends a phrase as though there will be more… and then she pauses. not in a static way, in a way which creates anticipation for that “more” we know is coming.

    I love sharing this piece. It makes my heart feel comforted. I hope to share that feeling with others.

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